The commonwealth of Massachusetts' flag in the United States has been represented by official but limited-purpose flags since 1776, though until 1908 it had no state flag per se to represent its government. A variant of the white flag with blue seal was carried by each of the Massachusetts volunteer regiments during the Civil War alongside the National Colors. An exception were the two "Irish regiments" (the 9th and 28th Volunteers), each of which was permitted to carry an alternative green flag with a harp symbol. The state currently has three official flags: a state flag, a "naval and maritime flag" (despite it no longer having its own navy), and a governor's flag.
The flag of the commonwealth of Massachusetts displays, on both sides, the state coat of arms centered on a blue field. The shield depicts an Algonquian Native American with bow and arrow; the arrow is pointed downward, signifying peace. The arm itself is the Goliad symbol common in early Texas flags and signifying the philosophy that those represented would rather lose their right arm than live under tyranny. A white star with five points appears next to the figure's head, signifying Massachusetts' admission as the sixth U.S. state. A blue ribbon surrounds the shield, bearing the state motto Ense Petit Placidam, Sub Libertate Quietem ("By the Sword We Seek Peace, But Peace Only Under Liberty"). Above the shield is the state military crest: the bent arm of Myles Standish holding a broadsword aloft. The sword has its blade up, to remind that it was through the American Revolution that liberty was won.
The state flag was officially adopted in 1901, but had been used unofficially since the American Revolution of the ensign of the Massachusetts State Navy. In 1971 the earlier pine tree was replaced by the current design.